KAZUMA OBARA

Frontline in Fukushima

«Alive from Palestina東日本大震災9.11. 小原一真現地報告会のお知らせ»

KazumaOBARA00.jpg



















Photo&text by Kazuma Obara, Translated by Yuri Ota

未だ収束の目処が経たない福島第一原発。震災から5ヶ月経過した今でも東京電力はジャーナリストの取材を禁止し情報統制を行っている。

福島第一原発1号機建屋から直線距離で200メートル程北西に位置する免震棟。ピンク色のシートに壁面と床が覆われた中に入るとすれ違った男性の胸ポケットから線量計の警報音が鳴りだした。免震棟内の各部屋の壁にはその部屋の線量が書かれたものが掲示されている。そのほとんどが毎時15マイクロシーベルト以上の測定結果を示しているが、測定時期が4月のものも未だに更新されずに掲示してある。

午前7時半。同行した作業員の第一回目の作業が始まる。作業は屋外で1時間行われ、その後、一度免震棟に戻る。1時間の休憩時間が与えられてはいるが、スクリーニングや防護服を再度装着する時間を考慮すると実質の休憩時間は30分程度。1時間の作業時間と1時間の休憩時間。これを一日に3回繰り返し、この1日の作業は終了する。

2回目の作業が始まる9時半過ぎ、作業員と同じ服装で免震棟の外に出た。防護マスクをつけて20分程度で鼻の奥にツンとした痛みを感じた。呼吸が非常に苦しい。30分で左後頭部が痛み始めた。酸素が足りないのか、マスクを強く締めすぎたのか。1時間が経つ頃には頭部の痛みが限界に達し、マスクを外したい衝動に駆られた。

午前11時半。2回目の作業を終えた作業員が免震棟に戻ってくる。疲れきった作業員たちが床の上に敷かれた銀マットの上で所狭しと横たわっている。銀マットからあぶれた何人かの若者たちは廊下に体育座りで仮眠をとっている。頰が赤く、あどけなさの残る青年もいる。朝のうちは談笑し余裕が見られた作業員たちだが、この時間帯は会話も少なめになり、ただ体力の回復に努めているように見えた。

8月1日、1号機と2号機の間の排気筒付近で1万ミリシーベルトが検出された。しかし、この日も作業員はその事実を知らされないままたんたんと働いていたという。

震災から5ヶ月以上経っても見えてこない作業の実態と作業員の顔。どのような人間が私たちの日々の生活の安全を支えてくれているのか。そして作業員の安全は確保されているのか。私はそれを知りたかった。匿名報道が一般的になってしまった作業員に関するニュース報道。私たちは自分の生活を守ってくれている人間の顔を隠さなければいけない状況をもっと重く受け止めなければいけない。

Five months since the Japanese nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, timing of resolution is still unclear. The operating company, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) continues to expose the Japanese population to unprecedented danger, refusing disclosure of key information and facts and preventing journalists' access to the inside of the compounds.

This report is a first-hand witness, showing a glimpse of the workers' day inside at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in the beginning of August 2011.

Five months since the Japanese nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, timing of resolution is still unclear. The operating company, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) continues to expose the Japanese population to unprecedented danger, refusing disclosure of key information and facts and preventing journalists' access to the inside of the compounds.
This report is a first-hand witness, showing a glimpse of the workers' day inside at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in the beginning of August 2011.
The headquarter building is situated 200m northwest of the No. 1 Reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. In this building, I entered the area where the walls, the floors are covered in pink plastic sheets. A man passed by and his pocket Geiger counter dosimeter went off with high pitch beeps. In each of the rooms here, there are many signs of the radiation measurements. Most show a rather high measurement of above 15 micro sieverts/hour, though they are not from recent measurements. Some have not been updated since April.

7:30am. The first work shift of the day starts for the group I accompanied that day. They work outside for one hour, then return to headquarter. One hour of break is given, but after they undergo irradiation screening, take off and put the protective gear back on, the actual break is merely half an hour. One hour of work, one hour of rest. This is repeated 3 times daily.

At 9:30am when the second shift started, I joined them outside wearing the same protective gear. After wearing the mask for 20 minutes, I felt a piercing pain at the back of my nose. Breathing became difficult. Within 30 minutes the left side of my head was in pain. I wasn't sure if it was lack of oxygen or if the mask was put on too tight. After an hour, the pain was unbearable and I was desperately looking at taking the mask off.

11:30am. The workers return from their second shift. Exhausted, they all lay down on the small mats laid on the floor. Where space is scarce, they lay in the corridors, sitting down and taking naps. Some look awfully young, with blushed cheeks. By now, the laughs and chatters of the early mornings were no longer heard. They seemed focused on trying to recover from the exhaustion.
August 1st, TEPCO announced radiation of 10,000 milli sieverts/hour detected near the ventilations between No. 1 Reactor and No. 2 Reactor. (1.5 minutes would surpass the 250 milli sieverts maximum allowed exposure for workers). The workers were not told of this fact, not on that day, nor afterwards. Never mentioned.
Five months on, there is no disclosure of who the workers are and the realities of the conditions they work in. Who are the unseen heroes that are risking their lives, fighting and protecting the safety for the rest of the population? Are the conditions they work in ensured for effective work? Are the safety of these workers guaranteed? Are they well protected? Or are they merely treated as a disposable workforce? This is what I wanted to know. Anonymous reporting has been the only way news media can reveal these facts to the public. Non disclosure has become the norm for these people, their identities hidden when they are fighting to protect our safety.

<link>

The Guardian Inside Fukushima - interactive guide

Earlier this month, Kazuma Obara became the first photojournalist to gain unauthorised access to the power plant and produced an exclusive glimpse of life inside the facility


©2010 KAZUMA OBARA All rights reserved.